In my year of turning 50 my first chance to do so came at Broome in Western Australia. We launched out from the beach at Gantheume Point just before sunset. A brewing storm churned the waters around the headland but the setting sun lit up the red earth and the gathering grey was shot through with pink and orange.
Further down the Western Australian Coast my next chance could not have been more different. The waters of Coral Bay were placid and calm and the sky blue as I paddled around in perfect peace. Children splashed happily in the shallows and beneath my little craft, a mysterious world of coral and other sea life.
My final kayaking adventure for the year was in Middle Harbour in Sydney. Starting at the Spit, we paddled past palatial properties perched for the best vantage points but then, quite quickly, all that display dissipated into thick bush. At the waters edge the trees clung to sandstone overhangs. The shells of oysters glinted in the sun and the tranquility was broken only by the occasional boat sending waves of wash towards us. We stopped for morning tea in a sheltered bay with the deafening hum of cicadas all about.
Paddling on we continued until the waterway narrowed in an eerie tangle of mangroves. Heading back, seabirds of many types wheeled above and the guide even spotted a penguin. I strained desperately to catch a glimpse but the sight of a penguin in the wild continued to elude me.